A Tanzanian commercial flight operated by Precision Air crashed into Lake Victoria in bad weather on Sunday, killing 19 people.
The country’s prime minister, Kassim Mayaliwa, said officials believed all bodies had been recovered from the plane.
“We begin to remove luggage and personal belongings from the plane. A team of doctors and security agencies have started the process of identifying the dead and notifying the families,” Majaliva said.
The airline confirmed the death toll and revised the number of survivors to 24 in an updated statement on Sunday evening. Earlier, the carrier, as well as local authorities, said that 26 of the 43 people on board had been rescued.
“Precision Air extends its deepest condolences to the families and friends of the passenger and crew involved in this tragic incident. The company will endeavor to provide them with information and any assistance they may need during their difficult time,” the airline said.
“The names of the passengers and crew members on the plane will not be released until all next of kin have been notified,” it added.
The flight, including 39 passengers and four crew members, took off from Tanzania’s commercial capital Dar es Salaam and was headed for the town of Bukoba before crashing into Lake Victoria. as he prepared to land.
Video circulating on social media, captured by onlookers on the shores of Lake Victoria, shows the plane submerged in water and emergency crews coordinating rescue efforts from nearby boats.
Precision Air CEO Patrick Mwanri looked visibly upset as he spoke to reporters in Dar es Salaam on Sunday.
Mwanri’s voice broke and he had to stop to wipe away tears as he said the plane took off at around 6am local time and was expected in the northwestern lakeside town of Bukoba at 8.30am.
“But at 8.53am, our operations control center received a report that that plane had not arrived,” he said in a televised statement.
The crash is believed to have occurred on the final approach to the airport, whose runway begins next to Lake Victoria, Africa’s largest freshwater lake.
Local authorities indicated that bad weather may have played a role in the accident, saying the area was under heavy rain and strong winds at the time.
The regional airline has opened a Crisis Management Center and established information areas in Bukoba and Dar es Salaam to communicate with the families of passengers.
Following news of the crash, Tanzania’s president called for calm on social media as rescuers worked at the site of the downed plane.
“I am saddened to learn of the crash of a Precision Air flight in Lake Victoria, Kagera region,” President Samia Suluhu Hassan tweeted on Sunday.
“I send my condolences to everyone affected by this incident. Let us continue to be calm as the rescue operation continues and we pray to God to help us.”
Precision Air is a Tanzanian airline based out of Dar es Salaam.